How can we make energy more affordable for the poor?



Groundswell: Build community power

Posted by Vivek Mehta on 29 May, 2018

Groundswell develops community solar projects and subscriber management programs that connect solar power with economic empowerment for marginalized communities. Groundswell’s community solar programs enable neighbors to work together to share energy through community solar, offering substantial savings to low-income households. They have more than 13 Megawatts of community solar projects in development in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Georgia - including projects that improve resilience by incorporating energy storage.

Groundswell works with churches, apartment buildings, and other organizations to develop and install community solar projects. There are no costs to the site host. Groundswell leases a rooftop, the area over a parking lot, or an empty land. They then design the project, organize financing, and enroll and manage all subscribers (people who opt for buying the solar power). The subscribers get locally generated solar power for about the same price as the conventional energy, but for every 3-5 households who subscribe, a low-income household gets electricity for 50% less price.

For example, if a Groundswell Community Solar project has a system size of 250kW, it can provide enough energy to support 83 households in the local community. Of those households, 19 are Empowered Households (low-income neighbors who struggle with the burden of high energy bills). Over a period of 20 years, that creates an economic benefit of $187,625 to families in the neighborhood.